Robotic process automation (RPA) takes interactions that a human normally has with a computer and automates them with a “robot” – an algorithmic software. The main benefits come from removing the burden of repetitive tasks from people, which results in higher production rates, improved accuracy and quality, and lower cycle times. An example specific to manufacturing is generating automated bills of material (BOM’s) or ingredient lists.
The robot software may be used to complete a transaction, manipulate data, trigger responses and communicate with other digital systems. It most valuable when applied in areas of high volume tasks that are mostly transactional or logic based. You can view more examples of industry-specific applications here. The most common ways RPA is applied include:
- Process automation – Following the logic of a ruled-based, non-subjective process, this type of automation carry out prescribed functions and scale with demand. Supply chain management, customer service, procurement, data entry, billing, customer service – these are all examples of functions that can benefit from robotic process automation.
- IT support and management – automation of simple problem investigation and management is the most common application in IT for RPA. Acting as a first service desk, many small, common issues can be solved without human intervention.
- Automated assistance – software analyzes language, content, intent and questions and provides answers and guidance back to users in natural language. For example, the “Ask Google” or “Siri” functions on smartphones. This can also be applied in a manufacturing setting, providing troubleshooting and operational controls verbally to machine and manufacturing line operators.
“We wouldn’t even put EPIC Systems in the running if we thought that they were incapable in any way of handling each and every one of our process and safety specifications. We have no doubt that the innovative solutions built and automated by EPIC will far surpass industry and market standards for accuracy, saving us time, money and future redesign. We want to be challenged to build the most innovative and most efficient systems for our manufacturing processes. With all of their recommendations, EPIC provides solid rationale for this caliber of advanced systems. I appreciate the fact that I have an external engineering team and that I can call or just come by EPIC to talk about a new concept or project.”
– Sheila R., Senior Process Engineer | a top agricultural chemicals company
“We were impressed with the professionalism and dedication of EPIC Systems’ entire organization, from the shop floor to their management team. Throughout the entire project, their team communicated with clarity and transparency. This was especially important to us as this pilot plant project was a first-of-its-kind for Akermin. Project scope changes were handled quickly and equitably. I would return to EPIC for future projects and I recommend their project management expertise to other organizations requiring a turnkey contractor for design, fabrication, and commissioning.”
– Bob Martinelli, Director of Engineering Operations | Akermin, Inc.